Digital Accessibility: What It Is and Why It’s Important

Digital Accessibility: What It Is and Why It’s Important

If you haven’t heard of digital accessibility before, this guide will help detail what it is and why it’s so important for you to implement it on your website.

Even though selling products online is one of the best ways to expand your business, it comes with its own set of challenges. Website development is never easy. Squashing bugs after a new update and finding ways to improve your e-commerce order fulfillment process are just a few of the things you’ll need to work on regularly.

Even if you nail all the basics, there are still plenty of improvements that you could make to your site. One commonly overlooked one is digital accessibility. If you aren’t sure what that is or why it’s important, you’ve come to the right place. We’re here today to go over these things with you. That way, your company’s website will be the best it can be.

What Is Digital Accessibility?

Let’s start by defining the term for those who haven’t heard of it before. Digital accessibility is the process of developing all digital products in a way that can be accessible to anybody. While that means this applies to online apps and tools, most companies only have a website, so that will be the main focus for us here.

While you might already think your website is very accessible, we’re not talking about general usability. Digital accessibility refers to adjustments you must make for those with physical or mental impairments. Some common examples are text-to-speech capabilities for people with visual impairments and closed captioning for those who are hard of hearing. It can also apply to those with a cognitive disability. They might need more straightforward navigation options to use your site.

Why Is Digital Accessibility Important?

Now that you know what it is, it probably seems more obvious why digital accessibility is important. However, there’s a lot more to it than you may initially realize. About 20 percent of the world’s population is living with some form of disability, so failing to make accommodations will likely negatively impact your business in a multitude of ways.

Not Having It Could Hurt Sales

With such a large section of the population being physically or mentally impaired, it should come as no surprise that not being more digitally accessible can hurt your potential sales and growth as a company.

Imagine if a brick-and-mortar wheelchair store didn’t have a ramp leading up to its front door. They wouldn’t make any money. Obviously, your customers won’t all have a disability that keeps them from using your site, but it’s better to cover all your bases to make everyone happy.

It Improves the Customer Experience

Even if someone with a disability can navigate your site and make a purchase, that doesn’t mean they will have a good customer experience. Struggling to use a site to buy something you need isn’t something a person wants to do more than once. You’ll likely receive a high amount of complaints about how unusable your website is for someone with their condition. Plus, once they find a company willing to accommodate them, they won’t stick around long enough for you to fix it.

There Are Laws Against Lacking Accommodations

Thanks to federal regulations, such as the ADA, Section 508, and the CVAA, companies can’t discriminate against those with disabilities. While much of this applies to physical stores, lawsuits against companies with inaccessible online storefronts have started to pop up.

This practice is only expected to rise as online sales become the new norm for shopping experiences. Risking a potential lawsuit to avoid some extra work on your website is never worth it. The time you could save doesn’t equate to the amount of money you could potentially lose in settlements and lawyer fees.

Including Them Improves Public Image

With the general public being a lot more accepting of those with disabilities, it always looks good when a company steps up and decides to cater to those in need. As of right now, only a small percentage of companies that sell products online have taken the time to make their sites 100-percent digitally accessible.

That means your company can help lead the way to inspiring a large-scale change. Not only will those with disabilities appreciate and praise you, but the rest of your customers will as well. This should lead to a lot of word-of-mouth promotion that money can’t buy.